Offered up

A Leeds artistic festival is set to celebrate the stories of older generations

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They shaped British pop, punk and the fight for civil rights – and now the stories of the over-sixties are to be told in an artistic festival in Leeds.

Household names and local undiscovered talents, all over 60, are joining forces with Leeds Playhouse for 1001 Stories, a celebration of age and ageing developed by hundreds of older people and groups from across the city.

New pieces of theatre will feature from artists with Leeds connections, including Dunstan Bruce, ex-frontman with Chumbawamba, David Hamilton, original member of Phoenix Dance Theatre, and poet Khadijah Ibrahiim. Film director Ken Loach will be in conversation on 26 April and Steel Pan Stories will celebrate the often-forgotten artists from the Windrush generation.

A world premiere solo performance by award-winning Hong Kong cultural leader Augustine Mok Chiu Yu (pictured), Cormorants will tell the story of our relationship with nature and each other, bringing together striking imagery and poetic language.

But at the heart of 1001 Stories is a new theatre production, Sinfonia, which features stories collected from local people, created and performed by the Performance Ensemble, a company of actors aged over 60.

Devised and directed by Alan Lyddiard, artistic director of the Performance Ensemble, Sinfonia will combine performance, stories, live music and dance on 27 April-6 May on the Quarry Theatre stage.

“These generations are forever associated with the birth of British pop or the rise of punk, fashion firsts, the first man on the moon and the fight for civil, social and political rights,” says Lyddiard. “They have lived experience that cannot and should not be forgotten.

“There are 161,000 older people over the age of 60 currently living in Leeds, they all have stories to tell but too often they’re isolated, alone and not given the opportunity.

“We wanted to show that these people matter and more, that they have something to say that everyone can relate to, can learn from.”

1001 Stories will be a takeover by older people of every space at Leeds Playhouse, on 24 April-6 May. For a full programme and tickets see

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